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On the Web The Tollund Man and Elling Woman
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The Tollund Man's Appearance

The Tollund Man is unusually well-preserved
The Tollund Man is unusually well-preserved. Big picture

The examination of the Tollund Man at the National Museum of Denmark in 1950 revealed an unusually well-preserved body of an adult male who was approximately 30 to 40 years old when he died. The Tollund Man is probably the most well-preserved body from pre-historic times in the world.

Only the side of the body which had been turned upwards in the excavation of the peat bog showed signs of decomposition. On his right side, which had been turned downwards in the grave, the skin was well-preserved whereas the body itself had shrunk, thus making folds in the skin. Different measurements showed that he measured 161 centimetres when he was discovered, but it is very likely that he shrank a little during his stay in the bog.

The Tollund Man as he appears today
The Tollund Man as he appears today.
Big picture
His arms and hands were almost skeletonized and partly ruined due to the peat-digging in the bog - only his feet and one finger were completely untouched.

The head was almost shockingly well-preserved. The eyes were closed and so was the mouth - the look on his face was calm and solemn as if he was just sleeping. His hair was short - 1-2 centimetres long - the red colour of his hair is due to the influence of the bog water. We don't know his original hair colour.

The hair on his head was covered by a crafted, pointed leather cap made of sheepskin. It was secured with two thin leather straps attached near the temples and tied together under his chin. A loop made it easy to put the cap on and remove it again.

The belt was tied around the body's hips. The belt was 77 centimetres long and was made of thin pieces of leather. One end of the belt had an oblong cut through which the other end of the belt had been pulled through and secured with a loop which could easily be untied. The leather cap and the leather belt were the man's only remaining clothing but around his neck was a braided leather rope tightened in a noose. The leather rope gives us the answer to one of the most interesting questions in connection with the Tollund Man: How did he die?

The rope had left a clearly visible furrow in the skin on the sides of his neck and under his chin, whereas there were no marks on the back of his neck where the knot was placed. The rope was strong enough to hold the weight of a grown man. The loose end, which was approximately 1 metre long, was rolled up and placed under the Tollund Man and had clearly been cut in half with a knife. The forensic examiners had no doubts when they decided on the cause of death: The Tollund Man had been hanged.

 Related Stories

The head was almost shockingly well-preserved...

The head
The head was almost shockingly well-preserved...

Hair and beard
The Tollund Man didn't have a special hairstyle...

The body
Only the side of the body which had been turned upwards in the excavation in the peat bog showed signs of decomposition...

The feet
The feet are big as if they belonged to a man...

The hands
His arms and hands were almost skeletonized...


The Tollund Man before preservation
The Tollund Man before preservation. Big picture


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